Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Life Science: About the Course

Teacher-Talk Life

[Teacher-talklife] Life Science Session 3--Animal Life Cycles

From: Joan Edgar <jedgar_at_hanoverschools.org>
Date: Mon, 28 May 2012 16:46:38 -0400

Dear fellow teachers--

Session Three was so very interesting--much of it was review, but I learned
a lot as well. Within the subject of animal life cycles is the fascinating
job that DNA does to propagate a species with the variation necessary to
success in a changing world. The question today is how to teach children
in the K-6 grade range about DNA. As I am a 6th grade earth science
teacher, I was unsure of what my students' knowledge was of DNA. When I
asked them, many knew that DNA has something to do with heredity of traits
from their parents, but didn't know what it is or where it is or how it
carries traits. A few had seen the double helix and knew it comes apart
and that traits are carried on the double helix.
When thinking about how to make the complex world of genetics accessible to
kids, I thought of how personification of the "actors" in a scientific
process can help to make it accessible. I checked out the web site for
Study Jams, which has lots of cartoons that explain scientific phenomena.
 Looking up "DNA" came up with no results, as did "sexual reproduction" but
"heredity" brought up a good introductory 10-minute cartoon on heredity.
 It uses the words heredity and genes and dominant and recessive genes and
shows the double helix but never mentions DNA. I think I would start with
the little cartoon film, go from there to ask students what they already
know about the subject and DNA, and proceed to doing the kiwi fruit DNA
extraction lab with my students. I would definitely have them do a play,
playing the key roles and personifying them, like I do with my earth
science students personifying all of the landforms in plate tectonics,
called Plate Tectonics in Action!. Beyond that, I can't really picture how
a whole unit would proceed.
How do those of you who teach this proceed with a unit that engages your
students and makes this complex and important process understandable to
your young students?
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Received on Tue May 29 2012 - 08:55:47 EDT



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